There’s something extraordinary about Rebecca St. James. It’s not that she is a Grammy Award winning vocalist; or that she recorded her first worship album when she was just 13, in her native Australia. It’s not even that she has six albums to her credit, and is one of the most admired women in Christian music. No, simply put, 25-year-old St. James is special because she has a sweet humble spirit, and depth of spirituality that cannot be hidden under a bushel. It shines in the warmth of her smile and easy laughter, or when she reminisces about taking care of needy children in Romania and India; or even in the way she earnestly seeks God every day.
As the daughter of a Christian concert promoter, St. James may have literally grown up in the music industry, but the limelight has not tainted her, nor do her musical successes define her. Instead, the mission of her ministry and music are clear. “I want to point people to Jesus,” St. James explains. “I want to share His hope with them. I have seen such a need ? our world is hungering and starving for truth, for hope and for God. So, that’s what I want to give them.”
Yet, in order to point people to Christ, St. James must nurture her own relationship with God by taking time out of her hectic schedule. During a recent six-month sabbatical, she sought God, allowing Him to speak to her heart and reveal new directions for her ministry.
“I don’t want to get into a rut. I want to personally hear from Him on things He wants to change in me as a woman of God,” says St. James. “First and foremost in my life, I want to be connected to Him and in the center of His will. Also in my ministry, I want to be connected and in the center of His will.” Refreshed from the change of pace, St. James is exuberant as she describes how time spent in solitude with her creator, resulted in an amazing spiritual rebirth. As with most artists, life in ministry is not always easy. Several times during the last eight years, this young singer has been so worn down from struggling to meet expectations — from others and herself — that they threatened to overwhelm her. “Being a woman in ministry, and in front of people, there have definitely been times when I have felt vulnerable just having to be strong all the time, and having to be a leader. I have to be the friendly Rebecca that everyone knows. I can’t just let my hair down and be weak — and I’m not meaning weak morally. Just weak.” St. James could have avoided facing her feelings of weakness and not brought them before God, but instead she went head to head with Him, asking for clarity and biblical wisdom. God answered her with renewed hope and strength for the future.
“He has given me an amazing new freedom. Sometimes we run away from hurts in our lives because we just don’t want to deal with them. I really felt like God wanted me to look at (my) hurts and pray through them, pray for His healing. I can’t be mowed down or oppressed by false or realistic expectations of other people. And today, I can’t remember the last time I have felt this free! So I encourage people to give God every little thing in their lives and don’t run away.”
While St. James is anticipating that God will do great things in people’s lives during her upcoming “Worship God” tour, she looks forward to the day when life will slow down. The all-consuming nature of the recording business doesn’t allow much time for a personal life, though St. James isn’t one to complain. Touring with her family and having her father serve as her manager has shielded her from some of the harsher aspects of a performer’s life, giving her a sense of stability she might not otherwise have had. “I have been very blessed,” says a cheerful St. James. “I don’t think that I was ever desperately lonely, thinking I don’t have a friend in the world. I know some people who have a very platform-oriented life feel that way. They just lose everything. But God has blessed me with some awesome friends and a church family I can let my hair down with.”
But having close family and friends to complement her singing ministry doesn’t keep her from longing for normalcy. St. James reflects on missing high school dances,spending time with friends and going bargain hunting at the mall. Even something as basic as returning home to sleep in your own bed every night becomes a simple luxury. Says St. James wistfully, “Those are the kinds of things that I hope for the rest of my life, when things actually do start to slow down, that I never take for granted.”
And yes, St. James dreams of one day trading this hectic lifestyle for a husband and children. “I do long for a future husband; and I long for the resting that I can have in his care. I’m very old-fashioned in my dream of being in a supportive role of him when I move out of music at some stage. It has actually been a goal of mine to become a wife and mother and really dedicate myself to that. I have seen other Christian artists struggle with juggling family and a full-time ministry. And I have seen how much I struggle with juggling friendships, let alone being married and having children. I just can’t even imagine. So I have felt like God will actually call me into a different form of ministry, maybe not quite so much in the spotlight, when he brings a husband and family into my life.” Fans need not worry; St. James is trusting God for the timing on that one. But in the meantime, as she continues to develop into the woman God wants her to be, she is well on her way to achieving her goal of fully loving Christ and others.
“I want to be remembered as a woman who passionately loved Jesus and gave her all for Him. If you love God well, the natural flow is to love others well too.” And she may well be on her way to leaving that legacy.
Copyright © 2004 Christian Music Planet, used with permission.
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